History of Wado
The founder of Wadō-ryū, Hironori Ōtsuka, was born on 1 June 1892 in Shimodate, Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan. In 1898, Ōtsuka began practicing koryū jujutsu under Chojiro Ebashi. From 1905–1921, he studied Shindō Yōshin-ryū jujutsu under Tatsusaburo Nakayama. In 1922, he met Gichin Funakoshi and began to train under him. In 1924, Ōtsuka became one of the first students promoted to black belt in karate by Funakoshi. To broaden his knowledge of Karate, Ōtsuka also studied with other prominent masters such as Kenwa Mabuni of Shitō-ryū and Motobu Chōki. In 1929, Ōtsuka organized the first school karate club at Tokyo University. Eiichi Eriguchi coined the term 'Wadō-ryū' in 1934.
In 1938, Ōtsuka registered his style of karate with the Dai Nippon Butoku Kai under the name of "Shinshu Wadoryu Karate-Jujutsu." Soon after, however, this was shortened to "Wadō-ryū". In 1938, the Dai Nippon Butoku Kai awarded Ōtsuka the rank of Renshi-Go, followed in 1942 by the rank of Kyoshi-Go. It was around this time that Tatsuo Suzuki, founder of the WIKF, began training in Wadō-ryū. In 1944, Ōtsuka was appointed Japan's Chief Karate Instructor. In 1946, Ōtsuka awarded Tatsuo Suzuki the rank of 2nd dan.
Around 1950, Jiro Ōtsuka (the founder's second son) began training in Wadō-ryū while in his adolescent years. In 1951, Ōtsuka awarded Tatsuo Suzuki the rank of 5th dan, the highest rank awarded in Wadō-ryū at that time. In 1952, the Wadō-ryū headquarters (honbu) was established at the Meiji University dojo in Tokyo. In 1954, its name was changed to Zen Nippon Karate Renmei (All Japan Karate Federation). In 1955, Ōtsuka published "Karatejutsu no Kenkyu," a book expounding his style of karate. In 1963, he dispatched Suzuki, along with Toru Arakawa and Hajimu Takashima, to spread Wadō-ryū around the world.
In 1964, the Japan Karate Federation (JKF) was established as a general organization for all karate styles. Wadō-ryū joined this organization as a major group.
In 1972, the President of Kokusai Budō Renmei, a member of the Japanese royal family, awarded Ōtsuka the title of Meijin. In 1975, Suzuki received his 8th dan, the highest grade ever given (at the time) by the Federation of All Japan Karate-dō Organizations, and was named Hanshi-Go by the uncle of Emperor Higashikuni.
In 1980, as the result of a conflict between Ōtsuka and the Wadōkai organization over personal withdrawals from the organization's bank accounts, he stepped down as head of the Wadōkai. Eiichi Eriguchi took over his place within that organization. On 1 April 1981, Ōtsuka founded the "Wadōryū Karatedō Renmei." (Renmei means "group" or "federation.") After only a few months, he retired as head of this organization. His son, Jiro Ōtsuka, took his place. On 29 January 1982, Hironori Ōtsuka died, and in 1983, Jiro Ōtsuka succeeded him as grandmaster of Wadō-ryū. The younger Ōtsuka changed his name to "Hironori Otsuka II" in honor of his late father. In 1989, Tatsuo Suzuki founded the third major Wadō-ryū organization, "Wadō Kokusai" (Wadō International Karatedō Federation; WIKF). (Kokusai means "international.")